Everyone suffers from stress. No matter who you are or what you do in life there will always be something that stresses you out. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a millionaire, or a stay-at-home parent, stress will find you. It’s a part of life and unfortunately we all have to deal with it. Some of us are better at it than others but eventually we all reach a breaking point. How we deal with stress has a large impact on our relationships with others, our job performance and our health. When we are trying to handle too much stress we get irritable or depressed; we find it harder to focus on our work, and we lose sleep or develop health problems. With all this in mind, here is a list of ten tips to help you overcome your stress.
Take breaks! This one is a freebie and we’re not going to include it in our ten tips because many of the tips we will be covering are different ways to take a break. Plus we’ve already covered the importance of taking a break in numerous blogs but it always bears repeating because so few of us actually do it. It is important to take breaks throughout the day to maximize your productivity as breaks allow you to relax and regroup before diving back in again. Okay, now that that’s covered (again), here are ten tips to help you overcome stress:
1. Exercise: Exercise is both good for the body and for the mind because it releases endorphins and gets your blood flowing. Working out can help you channel your stress into a more positive outlet while being kind to your body.
2. Engage in physical activity: Right now you are probably thinking, ‘Wait a minute, 1 and 2 are the same thing!’ But that’s where you’re wrong. Exercise and physical activity are different. In this tip, we’re not encouraging you to do twenty minutes on a treadmill or pound away at a speed bag; we’re encouraging you to move around more. Get up from your desk and walk around, jump up and down, shake out your arms, or stretch. By simply moving your body you are releasing endorphins and getting your blood flowing as in tip #1 but you can do this tip numerous times a day and you won’t get sore muscles.
3. Limit your caffeine intake: So many of us drink far more coffee than we need during the day and the extra levels of caffeine only exacerbate the heightened state of agitation we undergo while attempting to deal with the different stressors we encounter. Try switching to a less caffeinated beverage such as decaf or green tea which leads us to tip #4.
4. Drink more tea: For years tea has been toted as a great stress reliever due to its calming effect on the body. Green tea, as noted above, has half the level of caffeine that coffee does and contains antioxidants that are good for your general health. Making tea can be a very relaxing ritual and one that forces you to take a break while waiting for the water to boil and the tea to steep. There are also numerous types of herbal teas available that are proven to have a calming effect on the body due to active ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root, and theanine (also contained in green tea).
5. Listen to music: Music is a great way to calm your nerves during stressful times and can have a positive effect on your mood and your body. Try listening to something soft and soothing when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. Classical music has been a proven stress reliever but, if that genre isn’t your cup of tea (pardon the pun), try listening to some of the newer genres in recent years such as, ambient music, meditation chants, new age, or down tempo. As William Congreve wrote in his play, The Mourning Bride, “Music hath charms to sooth the savage beast…” and so it is true for even the most civilized of creatures.
6. Eat well: Consume healthier snacks like fruits and vegetables because they are filled with nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and natural sugars. We all fall into the trap of eating what makes us feel better emotionally and, more often than not, it’s junk food and sugar. While comfort food may make us feel better emotionally, it usually isn’t good for our bodies and can add undue stress to our physical health.
7. Have a support system: When you start to feel stressed out call a friend. Our friends and loved ones are our friends and loved ones for a reason and when you need to talk they are there to make you feel better. Whether you call them to vent or just to chat, your conversation should leave you in a happier mood when you return to work.
8. Sleep: Many of us don’t get enough sleep and forget that our body needs adequate rest to repair itself and carry out certain processes. Not getting the recommended amount of sleep can be one of the factors related to feeling stressed out. Make it a point to set a bedtime for yourself and try to stick to it. If you have a hard time falling asleep at night try drinking those calming teas we mentioned above, especially ones containing valerian root as it is a tried and tested sleep aid.
9. Relax: Practice relaxation techniques at home and at work. Learn more about what techniques work for you and begin to put them into practice. Meditate in the morning or for a few minutes at work when you feel your stress levels rising. Try taking a few deep breathes to calm you down during that business meeting or while driving in the inevitable stop and go traffic during rush hour. When you are away from work make sure you do things you find relaxing like reading a book, doing a crossword, or taking a hot bath.
10. Laugh and smile: You’ve heard the expression, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ so try using it more often. Take a break and read, watch, or listen to something that makes you laugh. Set a time limit and go online to find something you know will make you laugh. Laughter releases endorphins and stimulates the production of serotonin as well as raising your heart rate and increasing oxygen flow in the body.
Figure out which strategies work best for you and start lowering your stress levels so you can get back to enjoying what you do. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to make some tea, run a bubble bath, and get back to reading Catch 22.